Portuguese Translation Dialects

Standard Portuguese is used in most documents and projects submitted for translation purposes, but at the same time there are different dialects that fall under this language. This is due to the ranging differences in the countries in which the language was adopted, along with the mingling of other dialects present in these territories. The language has as well evolved because of colonization, although its standard form shares similarities in grammar and sentence structure, with slight differences in vocabulary use.

Portuguese Translation Dialects - Differences between Dialects

Portuguese dialects differ usually in phonology, frequency of use of certain grammatical forms, and the distance between formal and conversational levels of speech. There are also lexical differences in between dialects due to the use of “peripheral” words, but these have a small impact on the core lexicon. Major dialectical deviations are however few, thus almost all dialects sound the same when spoken.

Portuguese Translation Dialects - European Portuguese

European Portuguese serves as standard dialect of the language. It is however divided into two major groups namely:

  • Northern dialects. They are characterized by retaining the pronunciation of diphthongs ou and ei and by having merged the v sound with b, similar to that in Spanish. Among the dialects that use this phonological disparity is that used in Porto, the second largest city in Portugal.
  • Southern and central dialects. These dialects preserve the distinction between /b/ and /v/, and the tendency to monophthongize ei and ou to [e] and [o]. These dialects are found in the country’s capital, Lisbon, as well as in former colonies in Azores and Madeira.
  • Barranquenho. Barranqueho is a distinct dialect spoken in the town of Barrancos, situated between Extremadura, Andalucia and Portugal.

Other Portuguese dialects such as that spoken in Brazi, Asia and Africa are believed to spawn out of central and southern Portugal.

Brazilian Portuguese

Portuguese Translation Dialects - There are considerable grammar differences in Brazilian and European Portuguese, particularly when it comes to formality and use of vocabulary. Brazilian Portuguese has the distinction of having more open pre-stressed vowels. Some parts of the country have the “gaucho” accent, in which speakers tend to use strong feelings when pronouncing certain statements during conversations.

The placement of clitic pronouns is also different in Brazilian Portuguese, as well as the use of subject pronouns in the third person narrative. Non-standard inflections are also used in Brazilian Portuguese.

African and Asian Portuguese

African Portuguese tends to have generally closer similarities to European Portuguese unlike the Brazilian dialects. However, some of areas of their phonology, such as that the pronunciation of unstressed vowels, resemble Brazilian Portuguese. The same goes with Asian Portuguese, such as those spoken in Macau and East Timor.

Which Portuguese Dialect to Use?

When having documents translated to Portuguese, it is common for most translators to use the European dialect, as it is more standard when in written form. It is likewise good to be specific about the type of document and the country in which the translation shall be used, so that the right tenses, vocabulary and grammar styles will be used accordingly.